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The Science Behind Inspiration and How to Make the Most of It

by | Posted January 16th, 2014

Source: Lifehacker

Source: Lifehacker

If you’ve ever stared at a blank Word document, you know that achieving inspiration is harder than it sounds. Ideas don’t come easily, especially when you force them. Instead, allow yourself to be lazy. Let the ideas come to you. Or, get feedback on the ideas you already have, even if they aren’t very good. Knowing where or how your best ideas come to you is highly beneficial. And no matter how you go about searching for inspiration, make sure you have a strategy for documenting your ideas at any moment.

But what is inspiration? Well, there are a lot of brain waves and neural connections involved, but basically, the more you work your brain, the better it becomes at generating ideas. Our brain is a map of connections, each thought attached to another in a never-ending field of associations. The more we use those connections, the stronger they become and the easier it is to create new ones. Keeping your brain active is essential to this process. We’ve all heard of the numerous benefits of exercising and meditating. However, here’s an excuse to be even lazier: reading and playing video games also offer opportunities to create new neural connections. “Dude, how do you have time to play Assassin’s Creed 4, again?” “I’m strengthening neural connections and establishing new pathways in my brain every time I kill someone.” Yeah, you’re welcome. Read up on inspiration at Lifehacker.

From NBC: Why Johnny can’t write, and why employers are mad

by | Posted January 15th, 2014

writing-is-hard

Showcasing your skills and presenting yourself in the best way to your employers is challenging. However, students in the Professional Writing major might not have it quite as hard. Nowadays, employers are complaining that they can’t find job candidates despite the high unemployment rate. They say that this is because candidates don’t have near satisfactory writing skills. Many new hires received excellent grades all throughout school; however, they didn’t develop their writing and it left them behind all the other candidates. Some say that the root of the problem is in college curriculums; others say it stems earlier than that, but they all agree that the education systems aren’t doing enough to focus on written and oral communication.

The Graduate Management Admission Council conducted a survey in 2011 reporting that 86% of corporate recruiters said “strong communication skills were a priority”. Jobs now are mostly text based; communication occurs through emails, memos, reports, and other documents of the like. When that much of the daily conversation within and outside the company occurs in a documented format, it is vital that an employee’s written skills are up to par in order to assure the company is being represented appropriately. As a result, communication is one of the most sought after skills for employees and a major key to success in the employed world. For more details, check out the article at NBC News.

Customize WordPress Themes in 4 Easy Steps

by | Posted January 14th, 2014

Everyone realizes it at some point – my WordPress theme is being used by thousands of other bloggers. So, how do you make your blog standout? Most people shy away from customization of their layouts because they believe it takes exceptional coding skills and mastery of all computer languages. Well, they’re wrong. There are a few simple things you can tweak on your blog to make it match your own individual flair. From fonts to images to colors to the basic layout of your blog, there are many ways to make your blog stand apart from the rest. Check out more tips on Copyblogger.

Is Netflix threatening movie theaters?

by | Posted January 14th, 2014

Source: thenextweb.com

Source: thenextweb.com

Whether you’re part of the majority that have given in and bought Netflix accounts or you’re the one standing alone in the movie theater left to watch the glory of films on the old-fashioned big screen by yourself – in both cases, you’re not alone. The film industry has feared that the rise of video distribution sites such as Netflix would damage film attendance; however, the number of moviegoers has only decreased slightly over the past few years and ticket sales have been fairly consistent (although the rise of ticket prices has yet to slow down). The real threat to the cinema is home entertainment.

Nowadays, it’s so easy to access movies and TV shows with the click of your remote. Through platforms such as Comcast Xfinity, Apple TV, and HBO, there’s no longer any need to wait in line or choose a movie time or pay way too much for a bucket of popcorn. Movies are available (most of the time cheaper than at the theater) to view from the comfort of your own home. The convenience of a home theater is not the only draw though, Adam Leipzig, former Senior VP of Walt Disney Studios, explained that the competitiveness also has to do with the quality between content. “The best writing and the best character development is generally happening on Web series, or television series… [better] than we see in most studio movies.” So, just how will these new technologies at home affect the movies? Read more on thenextweb here.

Long Live Printed Books!

by | Posted January 13th, 2014

Source: investopedia.com

Source: investopedia.com

With the ever-growing world of eBooks, the lifespan of printed books are dwindling. As a frequent bookstore visitor, I loathe the day printed books die out. I think it’s still a long time coming, but it stills gives me panic attacks whenever I think about it. (And then I proceed to run to the nearest Barnes & Noble and breathe in the soothing smell of freshly printed books – seriously, that needs to be a body spray or something.) But in the meantime, we need to focus on the benefits of physical books versus the cheap imitations of the real book-reading experience. Nothing beats the feel of quickly fanning the pages of a new book or hearing the spine crinkle when you open it or perusing the aisles of an entire building dedicated to only books. And then there’s the satisfying feeling you get when you close a book after you’re finished reading. EBooks just don’t quite live up to the experience that is reading a physical book. Read the complete list of reasons at Thought Catalog.

From Terribleminds: Write What You Love or Write What Sells?

by | Posted January 12th, 2014

Source: serc.carleton.edu

Source: serc.carleton.edu

As a writer, your job seems to be simple: write stuff and people read it. But it’s the constant, daily struggle that’s difficult – figuring out the sweet spot between writing what you want to write and writing what actually sells. Sometimes, those are the same thing, other times, not so much. A lot of times, it depends on the market that year: what genres and topics are popular right now and what people are talking about.  But most importantly, you need to know what you want out of writing. If you’re in it for the money, then all the power to you, the answers are on the bestseller list. If you’re writing because you love the craft but you also want to be able to eat, then either make a compromise or try to find the happy medium. More than likely, there will be a group of readers out there that will want to read your writing. The catch is do you care about how big that group is or is the fact that they exist at all enough for you? Check out what novelist Chuck Wendig says about this on his blog, Terribleminds.

The Power of Envy

by | Posted January 11th, 2014

Envy. It’s one of the seven deadly sins. It’s said to turn us into “green monsters”. There are thousands of articles online and in self help books telling us how to let go of it, get rid of it, or rise above it.

To be concise: It’s got a bad reputation.

But, as always, it comes with a silver lining. Envy can be a strong motivating force, for both good and bad. And, as Pahrul Sehgal points out in her TED talk, it can be a force of innovation. Getting from point A (what someone else has) to point B (having it) can take some creativity, and envy is just the motivation for that creative thinking.

Envy is also an act of storytelling. We tell ourselves all about what someone else has, why they have it, and what it all means to us. This, the creativity and the narrative, may be why literature is obsessed with envy. Sehgal even argues that without envy, we might lose literature all together: “No faithless Helen, no Odyssey; no jealous king, no Arabian Nights. No Shakespeare. There goes high school reading lists because we’re losing the Sound and the Fury, we’re losing Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises, we’re losing Madame Bovary, Anna K. No jealousy, no Proust.”

So while envy may bring out the worst in us (as Sehgal acknowledges) maybe there is something to learn from it. Instead of trying to beat the envy out of ourselves, maybe we can leverage it into something more.

750 Words

by | Posted January 10th, 2014

“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.”

“In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”

Whether you believe in 10,000 bad drawings, 11 lifetimes, or 10,000 hours, it’s commonly agreed: Practice makes perfect.

750words.com seeks to make practice even better. The premise is simply. You go online, write 750 words, and the website keeps track of whether you do it or not. It keeps track of your running streak, and it assigns points.

Simple. But apparently very effective, according to the Wall of Awesomeness on 750words’ website. The Wall of Awesomeness keeps track of the people who take and successfully complete the 1 month challenge. The 1 month challenge is exactly what you’d imagine, of course – write 750 words every day for a month. If you’re struggling to stay motivated, or if you’re planning on a “write every day” style New Years resolution, 750words.com might be worth a shot.